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Florian Hecker, Dimensions of Sound

Florian Hecker

Florian Hecker

Florian Hecker, Chimerization, 2013, Event, Stream, Object, 2010 and Installation view at Chisenhale Gallery, 2010

The subjective dimensions of sound underpin Hecker’s investigations. His installations shift and vary depending on the listener, both in terms of each individual’s physical location and his or her personal biases and points of reference. Hecker takes as a starting point the fact that listening is often driven by a desire for understanding—it is an attempt to make associations, to recognize sounds as familiar, to slot what we hear into known categories. In Affordance, the variations between the three channels of the work protract and complicate this listening experience. Hecker has composed a three-channel piece in part to interrupt what he has called “bifurcated listening.” With a two-channel work, a viewer would be able to stand centrally and listen to the entire piece at once; with three speakers, movement and memory are necessary for understanding the piece as a whole.

It may be impossible to create a rational presentation of hyperchaos because hyperchaos may not be experienceable. While any composition has a finite duration, “hyperchaos is a theory of time, a theory to show that time is not becoming,” as Meillassoux puts it, which we understand as a sort of continuity or reference to the infinite nature of the universe. And, achieving real disorder is impossible anyway, “because disorder is just another form of order than the one you expect,” where fast-moving sound is a cliché of randomness and merely another form of organization. Florian Hecker’s performances delivers a perfect combination of theoretical underpinning and drop-dead digital disorientation.

Florian Hecker was born in 1975 in Augsburg, Germany. In his sound installations and live performances, he deals with specific compositional developments of post-war modernity, electro-acoustic music, and other, non-musical disciplines. He dramatizes space, time and self-perception in his sonic works by isolating specific auditory events in their singularity, thus stretching the boundaries of their materialization. Their objectual autonomy is exposed while simultaneously evoking sensations, memories, and associations in an immersive intensity. Hecker studied Computational Lingusitics and Psycholinguistics at Ludwig Maximilian Universität, Munich and Fine Arts at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, where he received his diploma.

Solo exhibitions include: Sadie Coles HQ, London, MD72, Berlin, Lumiar Cité, Lisbon, all in 2012; MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; IKON Gallery, Birmingham; and Chisenhale Gallery, London, all in 2010, and Bawag Contemporary, Vienna, 2009. Some of the group exhibitions and projects Hecker has participated in include dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany; Push and Pull, MUMOK, Vienna, 2010; Evento, Bordeaux; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary; The Kaleidoscopic Eye, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; UBS Openings: Saturday Live: Characters, Figures and Signs, Tate Modern, London. His most recent collaboration with Cerith Wyn Evans, No night No day, was premiered at the Teatro Goldoni as part of Fare Mondi, the 53rd Venice Bienniale, in 2009. Other group exhibitions appeared at Manifesta 7, Trentino – South Tyrol, Italy; Art unlimited, Art Basel; Experiment Marathon Reykjavik, Reykjavík Art Museum (2008); and with Cerith Wyn Evans, Lenbachhaus, Munich in 2006. His work has also appeared at Off the Record, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; 3. berlin biennale für zeitgenössische kunst, Berlin, (2004); the 2nd International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Gothenburg, 2003; and Mutations, TN Probe Gallery, Tokyo and Ausgeträumt…, Secession, Vienna both in 2001.

Text: http://act.mit.edu/people/faculty/florian-hecker-4/, http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2013/soundings/artists/4/biography/ and http://www.grahamfoundation.org/public_events/3904-florian-hecker.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Carola Dertnig, Performance Art and Documentation

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Carola Dertnig, Sans titres, 2009 – 2015

Carola Dertnig is an Artist who is interested in upturning and overwriting aspects of performance art history through strategies of feminist historical revisionism, including imaginative reconceptualization and performative interventions with existing documentation.

Carola Dertnig’s drawings, video works and installations are concerned with the performative content of language—text, images, gestures—and document these as a process within which roles arise and are articulated. Ways of seeing shaped by feminism as well as the explicit interest in politicising gender are among the central aspects of her work. Parallel to her artistic activity, Carola Dertnig has curated numerous exhibitions on performance art and initiated the feminist network a room of one’s own.

Dertnig lives and works currently in Vienna. Since 2006 she is a Professor for Performative Art at the University of Fine Arts in Vienna. She was a participant in the 1997 Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York.and has been teaching as a Guestprofessor at Cal ARTS in Los Angeles. Dertnig’s work has appeared in several exhibitions atP.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Artists Space, New York, Museum of Modern Art New York and the Secession and the MUMOK in Vienna. 2006 Dertnig published the Let’s twist again If You Can’t Think It, Dance it. Performance in Vienna from 1960 until today (coedited with Stefanie Seibold). 2009 / 2011 Dertnig was part of the Research project “Performing Knowledge in the Arts”. In 2014 the Publication, “Performing the Sentence. Views on Research and Teaching in Performance Art”, coedited with Felicitas Thun, was published.

Source: The Academy of Art, Oslo.
Text: Press Release caroladertnig.at.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Artist: Yngve Holen

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Yngve Holen, Extended Operations, 2013, Sensitive to Detergent, Tired, 2011 and Hater Headlight, 2015

Emerging from the 3D-printed rubble of Berlin’s “post-Internet” art scene, the Norwegian artist Yngve Holen is a cold empiricist and a slapstick comedian. With sculptural test-subjects ranging from minor appliances (tea kettles and washing machines) to high-industrial behemoths (commercial airliners and CT scanners), his works map the anatomical features of a new human-machine eco-system.

René Descartes (1596–1650) had a problem with animals. Or, rather, he had an animal problem. In the Meditations, the “father of modern philosophy” used skepticism to arrive at a radical theory of mind-body dualism. Bodies were machines. Minds were souls. But since the theological doctrines of the time stated that humans were the only animal that could have a soul, it was imperative for Descartes to prove that animals did not have minds either. The French philosopher thus responded by cutting animals open in private and writing about it in public. He penned a number of letters and texts that described animals as deceivingly complicated machines. What appeared to us as signs of their consciousness – their human-like qualities, or their screams under the knife of live dissection – were in fact spring-loaded responses to external stimuli. In the 21st century context, Descartes’s “animals are robots” writings have become the most unpopular of his theories. Perhaps it is because society as a whole has grown to have more empathy towards animals. Or perhaps it is because we know more about machines. Cutting something open to check for its soul seems like lunatic behavior now. At the very least, those of us in this century would use an ultrasound machine first.

In 2011, the artist Yngve Holen (1982–) ran over a chicken with a Toyota RAV4 and 3D-printed its remains. Unlike Descartes’s test subjects, Holen’s chicken was already dead, plucked, and de-clawed. Yet, when he crushed it open, a soul appeared:

Initially, I wanted to scan road kill. But it was difficult to find, and you can’t laser-scan fur. So I got the idea that I’d go to the supermarket and buy a chicken, so I could run it over and scan it. The meat we see in stores is almost a type of design object. For example, a chicken at a supermarket is so far from being a chicken. It’s had its feathers taken out. It’s cut into thighs and wings and drumsticks with lasers at some factory. It undergoes all these sculptural changes in order to transform from chicken to “poultry.” It’s a scary industry. If you don’t buy bio, chicken is cheap as hell. For an artist, it’s cheaper than buying clay. Then, when you drive over it and crush those bones – when you turn it into road kill – it’s suddenly this individual thing again. You give the chicken a soul by running it over. And then you extract that soul by scanning it.

With the artist-publication ETOPS, Holen formed an editorial extension to his sculptural practice. Comprised of long-form interviews with specialists from a variety of occupations, the magazine performs verbal dissection on the routines of otherwise opaque industries. It proffers details that simultaneously augment and drain the fear surrounding professions that operate in the intersections of body and machine. Aptly, the first ETOPS investigated the experience of air travel. In addition to an interview with a commercial pilot, the publication featured camera phone pictures of cruising-altitude sunsets and rows filled with cramped legs.

ETOPS is regulation system in aviation that says how many minutes you can fly a twin-engine aircraft without being in a certain radius of an airport. So a plane will be certified for, say, 120 minutes. Or now some are certified for 720 minutes, so you can basically fly wherever you want. But there’s this pilot joke that ETOPS stands for “Engines Turn, or Passengers Swim.” It’s funny. Metaphorically, it’s a question about how long we can stretch an idea before we crash it. How long are you allowed to spin off certain ideas before it doesn’t fly? The materials can only go for a certain amount of time. After that, the idea can go further, but the materials then won’t allow for it. We tend to think that these thresholds don’t exist, because they keep getting pushed further and further. Like, how far can the body swim before it drowns? We want to know that limit.

With ETOPS, Holen turns his line of inquiry away from the insides of machines and towards the invisible limits of how far the body can be stretched into something foreign from itself. For the second edition of ETOPS, designed by Per Törnberg, Holen and his editorial partner Matthew Evans travelled to Los Angeles and Monte Carlo to interview members of the pornography and plastic surgery industries. The resulting collection of anonymous interviews provides a look into two fields of practice that blur the distinctions between the natural and the artificial. By discussing the minutia of these occupations, ETOPS provides a textured account of everyday life in a futuristic present. During a dinner conversation, a pornstar gives advice on what to eat before sex scenes. In another interview, a plastic surgeon discusses how the placement of scars has been effected by trend cycles; The aesthetic has changed through the years. What is good-looking now may not have been 10 years ago.

For his solo exhibition “World of Hope” (2015) at Galerie Neu in Berlin, Holen released the second edition of ETOPS alongside a series of works make from the faces of CT scanners, which the artist dressed in custom-fitted fishnet fabric. Unlike the dissected water vessels of Parasaggital Brain, the sculptures allude to the possibility of seeing inside without incision. They present a technology designed to see through skin that is encased inside a fabric designed to see through clothing. Mounted on the wall as a type of relief, the works masquerade as paintings, winking at the Renaissance ideal that a picture should be a “window” into another world. They allude to the limits of the two-dimensional – the blurry and flattened organs that appear in radiology. Their shape suggests a type of industrially-designed orifice, although it is unsure whether it is designed for entrance or exit.

Source: Kunstkritikk.
Text: Thom Bettridge, 032c.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Artist: Jordan Wolfson

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Jordan Wolfs, Female Figure, 2014 and Colored Sculpture, 2016, Installation View

In a recent interview Jordan Wolfson artist traced a cycle of works produced since 2009 back to a moment of eye-contact: “It is something that became clear to me in Your Napoleon (2009) […]. For that work, I kept trying to figure out how to cut and paste these mock conversations about string theory and pop culture, and it felt like an ad-lib […]. I didn’t come up with the term formal bridge until I basically asked the actors to just read the script and look directly into my eyes, stare deep into my eyes” [Jordan Wolfson and Aram Moshayedi, “Tell a Poser,” in Ecce Homo / le Poseur, Walther König, Cologne, 2013, p. 92].If eye contact is both the semblance of a “truthful” connection and in the right hands a mask for falsity, Wolfson has pursued this “formal bridge” into a realm of heightened artifice and discomforting disclosure. His sophisticated animated constructions have achieved an unerring capacity to meld the giddy “anything goes” of computer-generated imagery with the telling fetish of the pop-cultural meme.

In his first solo exhibition for David Zwirner in New York in 2014, comprising a projected film, an installation and a number of digitally printed reliefs, instances of engineered eye contact between an artwork’s protagonist and the viewer anchored the show. The looped film Raspberry Poser (2012) featured a medley of animated forms layered against stock-image backgrounds and tastefully shot locations, set to a soundtrack of Beyoncé and Mazzy Star. Bouncing HIV virus particles and ethereal floating condoms emitting cascades of love hearts roved the streets and luxury lifestyle boutiques of New York’s SoHo. Meanwhile a generic cartoon boy gleefully strangled and self-eviscerated himself, as if to prove his immortal otherworldliness. Intercut with these characters, a series of live-action sequences showed Wolfson dressed as an archetypal punk on a “dérive” through a Parisian park. A close-up shot sees him turn to the camera and hold the prolonged gaze of the lens, an insouciant smile flickering across his face. The camera, of course, mediates the connection between Wolfson and the viewer. But the intentionality and persistence behind “the look” is unnerving. It holds both an arrogant knowingness and something of the contorted power play of a fashion model’s stare into the camera.

Female Figure 2014 is an almost absurdist endgame for discourse around the theatrics of the sculptural object and the tendency towards stagecraft within the contemporary art exhibition. While the robot’s routine was scripted, programmed and seamlessly looped — not unlike Raspberry Poser playing nearby — the physical nature of the encounter was heightened through the restriction to one or two people entering the room at any time. This conceit, a gesture towards an individualized performance, allowed for the singular experience of being “seen” by “her,” a phenomenon made possible by the use of advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology. The robot is the distant figure in the park in Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (1943). Thought of as a puppet, its relation to the objects around it is purely additive; it creates no new relations in the world of the viewer. In its locking of sight-lines, however, the viewer is momentarily yet disconcertingly aware of becoming an object in the eyes of the automaton.

In many regards, Jordan Wolfson artist work embodies the internalized contradictions of a generation whose teenage years spanned the twin poles of a burgeoning hyper-sexualized cultural economy and the media-stoked specter of sexually transmitted disease. In conjuring up a social imaginary around HIV and AIDS activism, Raspberry Poser echoes a young adult asking: “What does it mean about me?” — what writer Sarah Schulman has described as a “suburban narcissism in which one is able to ‘identify’ in order to internalize value”[Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, University of California Press, Oakland CA, 2012, p. 7]. The “place of distortion” Wolfson moves toward is undoubtedly agonistic, as it rests on a neurotic self-identification that appropriates positions of sexuality, gender, race and class — positions that themselves are present in the work only through inflated, vulgarized stereotypes. “Do you think I’m homosexual? Do you think I’m rich? Will you tell them what it’s like to be with me?” The artist’s needy voice is caught within the performance of a hyperbolized role, a meta-dialogue with the viewer that challenges their presumptions of identity and the “honest” disclosure of inner angst. While Wolfson is evidently not himself the loose-skinned, tired man of the poetic monologue in Female Figure 2014, the psycho-sexual inner world of the creator of the Bellmer-esque robot-as-sex-object looms large as an involuntary fiction.

There is a clear sense in which the artist’s work from 2009 onward has rejected a reliance on acquired methods and signifiers of artistic validity and rectitude. The complex cycle of works that culminates in the twin gazes of the female automaton and the languid punk instead offers witness to an unadorned self-image at odds with the governing techniques of the self-enterprising individual. Wolfson’s adoption of animation and animatronics locates this externalization within structural ambivalence; the ability to warp, inflate, distort and fantasize offers a fitting testimony to the splitting of contemporary subjecthood.

Source: Kunstforum International, June July 2016 Issue.
Text: Richard Birkett, Flashartonline.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Raf Simons Menswear Spring 2017, Florence

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Raf Simons Menswear Spring 2017, Florence

Earlier this year, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation contacted Raf Simons. They asked if he’d like to work with them on something. He said yes. That’s the shorthand version of the story behind the collection he presented at Pitti Immagine Uomo, perfectly chimed with a duo of Mapplethorpe exhibitions at LACMA and the Getty Museum, and the HBO documentary subtitled Look at the Pictures. It was the right time. And Simons is a Mapplethorpe fan, so it was the right artist. “I was honored,” Simons said after his show, his voice vibrating with emotion. Hence he shelved the idea he was working on for a collection (he wouldn’t reveal what it was; it may, he said, come out in a later show) and began his latest artist collaboration.

Normally, when Simons works with an artist, he approaches them. This time, the dynamic had somewhat shifted. The generosity of the Mapplethorpe Foundation’s offer is reflected in the generosity of Simons’s interpretation: There’s no outfit in Simons’s Spring 2017 show that doesn’t feature a photographic print of a Mapplethorpe. His curly-haired male models, with seductively slanted leather biker caps, often bore a striking resemblance to the photographer himself—though Simons stated that, rather than the artist’s doppelgängers, “every boy is a representation of a piece of work.” Each could be a Mapplethorpe sitter. The billowing shirts had shades of Mapplethorpe’s famous muse Patti Smith on her Horses album cover. Robert Sherman, a model whose alopecia made his skin approximate marble in his many portraits shot by Mapplethorpe, also attended the show. Simons had to clear third-party rights with all the sitters before reproducing their images. It began a dialogue that resulted in an immersion on Simons’s part in Mapplethorpe’s work.

That being said, the artist sat for himself a lot. Mapplethorpe was a fascinating character, and the art is inextricable from the man. “If you think about the work, it is so much about him,” said Simons, and, indeed, it was so much about the clothes he wore, too. On a voyage of sexual self-discovery, many of Mapplethorpe’s first pictures were Polaroid self-portraits, trussed up in leather gear, testing the limits of pleasure and pain. Later, he documented his own sexual fetishes; the leather scene and BDSM predominantly. Clothing was a vital component: At one point, Mapplethorpe began stretching his own (worn) underwear across wooden frames to form unconventional sculptures; later, he clad himself in black leather.

Simons knows all of that. Hence the fact his homage to Mapplethorpe felt so thoroughly rounded, so passionate and truthful. The subtlety of Simons’s multiple references gave the show depth—his palette of black; white; the bruised-flesh shades of crimson, pink, and purple; and the burgundy of coagulated blood; the leather dungarees glinting with metallic buckles. Simons spent two afternoons pawing through the Mapplethorpe archives of contact sheets. He struggled with the English terminology to describe those: He called them “maps,” which is a far more interesting and evocative notion when applied to Simons’s search, to find new territory for Mapplethorpe, to make him feel relevant and exciting to a new generation. That’s what he saw his role as.

I’m a Mapplethorpe fan too. I couldn’t help but ally this show to Mapplethorpe’s fascination with frames, with giving his imagery a three-dimensional element, a sculptural quality by framing and matting in plush velvets and exotic woods, attaching imagery to objects. Making his photographs more than they may first appear. Simons framed Mapplethorpe’s images with cloth, but then further framed them on the body: an image printed on a tabard, say, surmounted by the curtains of jacket lapels, or revealed on a T-shirt under a loosely draped sweater. Simons gravitated towards Mapplethorpe’s sexualized images of flowers, his idealized portraits of famous subjects like Debbie Harry, caught in coronas of light, and of artists whom Simons also shares an admiration for, like Alice Neel, captured a week or so before her death in an extraordinary 1984 portrait. Sex was in there, too; Simons was insistent on that. A down-stuffed jacket memorably turned to reveal an image of an erect phallus.

He also used the phrase “curation” to describe this show: “I wanted to approach it like a museum show, or a gallery show. Which has been done very often when it comes to Mapplethorpe’s work. Cindy Sherman did it, David Hockney did it. But always in a gallery.” Simons frowned. “I am a fashion designer. I thought the biggest challenge would be to do it in my own environment.”

The curatorial aspect made for a fascinating notion, especially in a time when so many designers appropriate and reference without credit—and when so many people throw around the verb “curate.” It’s indicative of Simons’s nature—respectful, quiet, intellectually hefty—that he saw this collection not as his creations with Mapplethorpe’s imagery tacked on, but as a collaboration akin to a gallery show, where his role was, at least in part, to best showcase the works he was given. But it was also to use those works to tell a new, exciting, and provocative story. To show us something new from the well known, and much seen, archives of Mapplethorpe. Which he undoubtedly did.

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Sarah Abu Abdallah: You Will Never Have Full Custody of Your Life

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Sarah Abu Abdallah, The Salad Zone, 2013, Saudi Automobil, 2012 and Video Still from The Salad Zone, 2013

Sarah Abu Abdallah works primarily with video and film as a medium. She grew up in Qatif, Saudi Arabia has an MFA in Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design. Recent participations include include Prospectif Cinema Filter Bubble in Centre Pompidou, Paris, Private Settings in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Arab Contemporary in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Migrating Forms in NYC, the Serpentine Galleries 89plus Marathon in London, the 11th Sharjah Biennial 2013, Rhizoma in the 55th Venice biennale 2013. Contributed to Arts and Culture in Transformative Times Festival by ArteEast, NYC and the Moving image panel on Video + Film in Palazzo Grassi, Venice. See her catalogue of work on Vimeo here.

Sarah Abu Abdallah studied art in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s more liberal neighbour, making her return to the strictures of life in Saudi Arabia hard. Her film Saudi Automobile tells of her frustration at the ban on women driving. It features a car she found crashed by the side of a road, which she painted pink. ‘This wishful gesture was the only way I could get myself a car,’ she says. “Painting a wrecked car like icing a cake, as if beautifying the exterior would help fix the lack of functionality within the car. This wishful gesture was the only way I could get myself a car – cold comfort for the current impossibility of my dream that I, as an independent person, can drive myself to work one day.”

Saudi Automobil, 2012 depicts Sarah Abu Abdallah painting the shell of a wrecked car with light pink paint, a gesture of defiance against Saudi Arabia’s prohibition on women drivers, which makes mobility the exclusive privilege of men. After sweltering in her abaya under the hot sun, Abdallah finally retreats to the passenger seat, reflecting her place in Saudi society. For the exhibition ‘Soft Power’ Abu Abdallah installed the painted car in the gallery space, further emphasising the limits of her rights to vehicle ownership.

‘I don’t call for extreme freedom,’ she says. ‘But we grow up at a very young age here and the more you grow up the more you realise you will never have full custody of your life.’ Her work, it seems, is Abu Abdallah’s lifeline. She reads about it rapaciously, ordering massive tomes from abroad about abstract expressionism and performance art. ‘Being a woman in Saudi may be really restricting,’ she says, ‘but being a female Saudi artist is very good at the moment. I want to join that wave.’

Sifting through the absolute, the predefined, constructs of anxiety, and the absurdity of the agreed-upon in a time of excess, in her work The Salad Zone, 2013. How does one place one’s coordinates in the physical, metaphysical, and the digital citizenry? It is said that the gravitational forces exerted by the planets affect the circulation of human bodies and emotions as much as they affect the oceans. Youtube and google image search help to assemble an uncomfortable space for a question spanning practices of compulsion and purification. Continuing on a previous question of how in a hyper-connected world, does one place one’s coordinates in the physical, metaphysical, and the digital citizenry.  Sarah Abu Abdallah’s series q-VR, draws a mental collage using the everyday, references to virtual reality and old photos of the artist’s father in his youth to make up a fictional world through images.

In her work The Turbulence of Sea and Blood, 2015, we see disarrayed glimpses of multiple narratives such as that of: familial domestic tensions, a juvenile dream of going to Japan, the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger, and eating fish. While using scenes from the artist’s surroundings and life in Saudi Arabia, like streets or malls, it never attempts to provide the whole picture, but takes a rhizomatic approach to tell a story of the everyday life.

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Painting: Max Schmidtlein

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Max Schmidtlein, Hallo, 2014 and Head and Shoulders, 2015

Max Schmidtlein’s solo exhibition Detox Plus is a highly contemporary painting exhibition. ‘Not another “contemporary” painting show’, you might say. Yet more painting that wants to do everything differently. Painting that acts oh so aware of media issues and its own implication in the mechanisms of both on- and offline circulation – but in the end turns out to be just that: implicated. While these grumbles may be warranted, perhaps this exhibition is different.

Detox Plus not only looks cheap, it is: made, in fact, on a shoe-string budget. Nine works are on view, eight of them almost the same size and similar in appearance. The longish canvases of thin black fabric (bought on sale at Karstadt, apparently) are used sometimes vertically, sometimes horizontally; all are painted using products from the pharmacy chain dm. The only work that’s not a painting is a deceptively real light box bearing the dm logo, installed outside the gallery (dm, as all works from 2015).

The titles of the works are derived from the respective products used in their manufacture, for example Head and Shoulders, the exhibition’s most representational painting. True to its punning title, the work depicts the head and shoulders of a human figure on a black background, while the body for the most part disappears beneath a white, nearly rectangular spot of colour (made of sham­poo and conditioner from the corresponding brand, together with chalk, oil, and acrylic paint). Contrastingly, Balea is almost abstract. The hint of a hand can be made out and one can’t help but search the glittery, slippery-looking splotch for traces of lotions and bath products from the eponymous personal hygiene brand. For Profissimo, a cleaning product from the dm in-store household range was used. The work depicts a kitchen knife and a pack of cigarettes. And in The Beauty Effect, one detects a reclining figure stretching its arms over a head resembling an irregular square on which a mixture of anti-acne cream, essential oils, and perfumed wax has been applied. If you get up close to the canvases, you can even smell the products.

While this might sound like a sequence of cheap one-liners, the target quickly becomes clear. The focus is less the craze for wellness and detox than the current ubiquity of what is largely, ostensibly, conceptual (and for the most part abstract) meta-painting. In other words, the joke works despite the collision of cheap material and cheap concept, not through it. It’s a form of meta-meta-painting, if you like. Perhaps in a similar vein to what the Reena Spaulings pranksters have come up with for their concurrent Later Seascapes show on view at Berlin’s Galerie Neu – four ‘Zombie Formalist’ abstract canvases painted by robot vacuum cleaners. These works, too, are one-liners: a commentary on painting through painting. Whereas by now Reena Spaulings’ project might come across as the self-reflexive one-upmanship of cynical jokes – their subversive aspect lost largely due to the position of power they’ve achieved at the heart of the art establishment – Schmidtlein’s exhibition feels quite different: more the stunt of a mischievous court jester than a grimly nihilistic gesture by the sovereign.

Schmidtlein might make use of the prevailing short-circuit between material and concept, but he intersects it at the formal level by using deliberately sloppy figuration. Rather than a slick, decorative abstraction based on a tired conceptual superstructure – the automatization of a painting process whose insistence on expressivity has long since ceased to be anything more than appearance – here are helpless, sad, ghostly figures that attempt, apparently without much success, to breathe new life into their tired, dirty bodies with cheap synthetic hygiene products. At the same time, and in the midst of all this dreariness, Schmidtlein’s paintings are also far removed from the colourful canvases in which today’s painters have tried to restore figuration through comic form, using googly eyes and cute monsters to poke fun at conveyer-belt abstraction.

Ultimately, Schmidtlein’s show too is a grinning meta-commentary on the ubiquitous genre of conceptual painting. One, however, that doesn’t cynically turn itself into a robo-cleaner messing around with the dirt on the gallery floor, only then to sell that same dirt. Instead these paintings use the mud of a €1.99 face-mask: a kind of fresh-cell therapy in a low-grade drugstore spirit. Lo and behold, beneath it all a young and tender skin actu­ally does appear. What’s the dm slogan that puts it so well? ‘This is where I’m a person, this is where I shop.’ And that’s miles away from painting bots.

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Charles Harlan, Sculpture

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Charles Harlan, Stack, 2015, Roll Gates, 2012 and Counter, 2013

Drawing inspiration from Land Art of the 1970s, Harlan avails himself of the most common materials at hand – including such hardware store staples as ladders, shipping palettes, and one-ton metal pipe – in his large industrial works. Huge in scale, Minimalist in form, and shown both indoors and out, Harlan’s art has often been referred to as Duchampian in its reliance upon readymade components, its deceptive simplicity, and it spatial humor. His stacking and layering of recognizable, utilitarian materials renders surprisingly potent forms that invite unexpected associations.

Charles Harlan sculpture and work invites contemplation of the ways in which we adapt to and absorb the toughness of the urban landscape. Pristine, immutable walls are made from the same sheet metal fencing that encloses myriad outdoor parking lots and construction sites, and hosts graffiti and flurries of advertisements throughout the cityscape. But whereas the world around us is wild and feral, Harlan’s work is carefully ordered, throwing into higher contrast the realms of tumult inside.

Harlan was raised in Smyrna, Georgia, and his work exhibits a vernacular, domestic flair, as if the suburban housing tracts featured in Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966) were taken apart and repurposed as elegant, redneck Minimalism. With Shingles (2011), for example, Carl Andre’s floor-based metal works meet their working-class counterpart, as copper plates are exchanged for patterns of overlapping asphalt roofing tiles; Siding (2011), meanwhile, replaces Donald Judd’s shiny metal cubes with the work’s namesake – and very plebeian – exterior vinyl wallcovering found on many a tract house; and by simply lifting a marble countertop off the bathroom sink and onto the wall, Counter (2012) proves that even the slightest of gestures, such as a change of orientation and context, can render foreign something familiar – the everyday as convincing art object. Similarly, with Pipe, it’s as if one of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1976) was transported from the desert to this small, white cube gallery on the Lower East Side.

Equally industrial as Holt’s work, though perhaps more refined-looking with its clean metal surface and, when struck, resonant timbre, Harlan’s invasive culvert more closely pressures the thin distinction between rote object and institutionally legitimated artwork. Even if they’re in the middle of nowhere, Holt’s tunnels are art because the artist presents them as such; Pipe is equally authored and institutionalised. That it’s a pipe is precisely the point. While it’s a beautiful object, it illustrates how arbitrary ‘art’ really is. The term may designate anything, from a painting to a pickle in a jar. The latter, displayed in the gallery’s back office, is sold by Harlan’s mother in her hardware store; it could be an artwork too, if he willed it.

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Arab Contemporary Art: Artist Collective GCC

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GCC, Exhibition View, Royal Mirage, 2014, Chartered Cruise,  Rolls Royce Silver Phantom, sound, ephemeral/performance, 2013, and Royal Mirage III, 2014

The artist collective GCC has been making arab contemporary art that is both inspired by and addresses the contemporary culture of the Arab Gulf region. Consisting of a “delegation” of nine artists, the GCC makes reference to the English abbreviation of the Gulf Cooperation Council, an economic and political consortium of Arabian Gulf nations. Founded in the VIP lounge of Art Dubai in 2013, the GCC makes use of ministerial language and celebratory rituals associated with the Gulf. The collective consists of Nanu Al-Hamad, Khalid al Gharaballi, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Fatima Al Qadiri, Monira Al Qadiri, Aziz Al Qatami, Barrak Alzaid, Amal Khalaf.

For their inaugural series of exhibitions, the collective focused on the notion of achievement, focusing on the rituals that mark accomplishment as well as the physical objects that embody them. They have created a series of Congratulants based on trophies exchanged in the Gulf as well as videos examining ribbon-cutting ceremonies and installations that reference the spectacular cities that have been recently constructed in the region. The GCC’s visual language is not one of irony or hyperbole, but rather a way of framing culture that reveals the ambiguity and nuance of how people live today.By utilizing new mediums like HD and 4K video, in addition to appropriating traditional forms like news radio and miniature model building, the GCC span a range of artistic practices. They are rooted in the legacy of identity politics while engaging with new ways of relating images and objects. With members trained in architecture, design, music, and of course art, the collective embraces an interdisciplinary way of working that produces arab contemporary art that are both coherent and concise in their concept and execution. They make use of visuals that are largely known to the late-capitalist consumer—advertising and brand management that is employed by global business and nations alike.

Upon entering Achievements in Swiss Summit, London’s first GCC exhibition at Project Native Informant, it becomes immediately apparent that the luxurious setting is apt – the Rolls Royce hovering by the entrance on the opening night is not a mode of transportation for an ostentatious Frieze-goer but a prop that plays an integral part of the show’s concept. Achievements in Swiss Summit acts as a formal celebration of the artistic union of the GCC collective, an auspicious event that reinforces its first meeting in Morschach, Switzerland and announces through speakers in controlled, mellow tones its intentions as a High Level Strategic Dialogue.

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Dance: Xavier Le Roy, Nudity Has Been Around From Prehistoric Times

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Xavier Le Roy and Eszter Salamon, Gisxelle, 2001

For Le Roy, nakedness is not a shock tactic but a quest for the sculptural and the sublime. “Nudity has been around from prehistoric times,” says John Kaldor. From 35,000-year-old figurines of Venus to the pursuit of male bodily perfection in Greek and Roman marble statues, Temporary Title is following a long artistic tradition. “Everybody is the same but is different,” says Le Roy, “The skin is great at showing that.”

For two decades, Le Roy has been tearing contemporary dance away from its conventional home in the theatre and placing it firmly into the art museum (appearing everywhere from London’s Tate Modern to the Museum of Modern Art in New York). His work is an “exhibition”, a moving landscape if you will, a space where visitors can stroll in and out as they see fit, spending 10 minutes or six hours consuming the art.

Xavier Le Roy holds a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Montpellier, France, and has worked as a dancer and choreographer since 1991. He has performed with diverse companies and choreographers and produces his work since 1994.

His most famous composition to date, Self Unfinished (1988), sees Le Roy use an elasticated black jumper and trousers to divulge, and then cover up, parts of his body, before peeling off his clothes altogether. In the process he becomes barely human. He is a robot, a raw plucked chicken carcass, a series of shapes and curves, his anatomy a ball of clay to mould.

When he performs Self Unfinished around the world, he is still struck by the “density of concentration” between himself and viewers, so thick it’s “like you can almost touch it”, he murmurs, rubbing his fingers together. Le Roy’s art is in his audience’s hands too (hence the open rehearsals and feedback sessions). He recalls one onlooker who was asked a question in a practice run of Temporary Title. Faced with the nakedness, he answered honestly, later telling the artist he could no longer “dress up” his answer.

But if being nude is being vulnerable, so, ironically, is putting back on clothes. Temporary Title’s performers work in shifts, dressing and undressing in front of the watchful eyes of the crowd. In the process they become “coloured in”, observes Christopher Quyen. Clothes act as identity: a conscious, carefully chosen image.

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Wolfgang Tillmans

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Wolfgang Tillmans, Young Man, Jeddah, A, 2012, Nite Queen, 2013 and Young Man, Jeddah, B, 2012

The German artist Wolfgang Tillmans is the recipient of the 2015 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. On December 1, 2015 an exhibition of Tillmans’ work opened at the Hasselblad Center, Sweden. On the same day, the Hasselblad Foundation hosted a symposium with the award winner, and a new book by Tillmans was released.

Wolfgang Tilmans was born in Remscheid, Germany in 1968, and is a worldrenowned artist who has redefined the popular understanding of photography as a gallery-based medium. He studied at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in Bournemouth, Great Britain from 1990 to 1992 and mostly lived and worked in London for much of the 1990s until the mid 2000s. He was officially recognized in the year 2000, when he won the prestigious Turner Prize in London, and it is a testament to the groundbreaking nature of his work that to this date he remains the only artist working primarily with photography to have been awarded this accolade. His work is in the collections of museums all over the world, including key institutions in The United States, The United Kingdom, France and Germany. He has exhibited widely and constantly since the late 1990s and has recently had large-scale exhibitions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Kunsthalle Zurich, K21, Dusseldorf, Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru, and Museo de Artes Visuales, Santiago, Chile. In 2014 installations by Wolfgang Tillmans were shown as part of the 8th Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 10 and in collection displays at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Recently Wolfgang Tillmans was also acclaimed for his highly original contribution to the Venice Architectural Biennale; a stunning two-channel video installation of his own photographic investigation of urban landscape in the age of globalization, which is presently displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Tillmans currently lives and works in Berlin and London.

Tillmans’ work is characterized by an extremely diverse and restless attitude to his subjects. His work ranges in focus and approach from street photography and urban portraiture (including important considerations of subcultures, queer politics and the AIDS crisis) to travel, landscape, still life, pictures of the sky and pure abstraction. Moreover, as well as producing iconic images, Tillmans is doubly significant in the breadth of his interests and approaches for the way in which he successfully demolishes the borders between apparently contradictory practices. In recent years, he has produced substantial and significant bodies of purely abstract photographic work, experimenting both with chemical and technical means, while maintaining a curiosity for the continued potential of more documentary images. For his most recent body of work Neue Welt (New World) Tillmans traveled throughout the world exploring it in a deviation from his beaten path.

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Jamian Juliano-Villani, Penny’s Change, 2015

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Jamian Juliano-Villani, Penny’s Change, 2015,

What makes a painter paint? In her Bedford-Stuyvesant studio, artist Jamian Juliano-Villani uses a digital projector to create surreal paintings and discusses the graphic source material that inspires her. Juliano-Villani’s Brooklyn studio is crowded with a wildly varied collection of books ranging from 70s-era fashion, to commercial illustration, to Scientific American-style photography, to obscure European comic art. This vast image bank—which the artist began collecting in high school—generates the building blocks for her mashup creative process. “When I’m working I’ll have thirty images in a month or two months that I’ll keep on coming back to, and I’ll try and make those work with what I’m doing, but they’ll never look like they’re supposed to be together,” says Juliano-Villani. “That’s when the painting can change from an image-based narrative to something else.”

Working quickly and intuitively with the projector, Juliano-Villani toggles through a series of potential images on her laptop as a way to discover solutions for content and composition. Long attracted to cartoons, the artist borrows from illustration as a way to deflate painting’s historical pretensions and to speak in a more direct language; and yet, despite her use of vernacular imagery, what her works ultimately communicate might only be personally understood. “Painting is the thing that validates me and the thing that makes me feel good. I care about it, and they care about me. That’s why I put the things that I collect and really, really love in my paintings,” says Juliano-Villani. “They’re helping me figure out the things that I can’t communicate to myself yet.”

Her trippy acrylic paintings combine cartoonish imagery from far-flung sources, some of them actual cartoons from artists like Chuck Jones. She calls her use of other artists’ work “simultaneous exploitation and homage.”
Juliano-Villani explained her thinking in a Facebook comment: “It’s important to realize that all visual culture is fair game for artistic content, ‘appropriation’ isn’t a ‘kind’ of work, it’s almost all art. When making a painting or a print or a sculpture, it’s nearly impossible to make something without thinking of something else. A good reminder that when dealing with images 1) once an image is used, it isn’t dead. it can be recontextualized, redistributed, reimagined. 2) It should have several lives and exist in different scenarios.”

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Artist: Isabelle Cornaro, Art Historian Specialised

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Isabelle Cornaro, Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires (version II), 2009 and The Whole World is Watching, 2012

The work of Isabelle Cornaro evinces an interest in the way our perspectives are historically and culturally determined. Due to her training as an art historian specialised in 16th- and 17th-century Western art, her visual language is strongly associated with the forms and compositions of the past, ranging from Baroque and Classicism to Modernist abstraction. In her installations, casts and films, Cornaro plays with the possible meanings of everyday implements and artistic objects by placing them in a new context. Oriental rugs, Chinese porcelain, inherited jewellery; miniature landscapes, tautological objects and 16mm film.

Every now and then a single art work becomes associated with an artist in one’s mind and sticks there, obstinately refusing to cede its advantage no matter how sincerely one appreciates that artist’s entire output. Until recently, this has been the case, for me, with Isabelle Cornaro’s installation Paysage avec Poussin et témoins oculaires (version 1) (Landscape with Poussin and Eyewitnesses [version 1], 2008–9), which I first discovered in her 2008 exhibition at La Ferme du Buisson art centre in the Paris suburbs. Loosely based on a painting by Nicolas Poussin, this ‘landscape’ comprises a set of plywood pedestals of varying dimensions and tightly rolled, hung and unfurled oriental carpets, arranged according to rules of perspective and favouring a single point of view. Wandering into the three-dimensional interpretation of its two-dimensional art-historical ancestor, I discovered that the pedestals are topped with large cloisonné-patterned urns, smaller decorative items Cornaro calls ‘tautological objects’ because their forms mimic their functions (such as a duck egg-cup in the shape of a duck), as well as devices for measuring space and for aiding vision. In keeping with the perspectival organization, the size of these objects diminishes depending on their placement in the foreground, middle-distance or background. Cornaro’s accumulation of junk into the language of decoration, in a material that renders it sumptuous, suggests her faith in the innate, extraordinary power of things to endure and withstand the vagaries of how we look and see.

Cornaro uses scanning, photography and plaster casting as her methods of production. Through meticulous arrangements, she investigates the properties of objects and the historicity they can point to or steer away from. Homonyms (II) (2012), for example, are coloured plaster casts taken from soft materials such as laces, quilts and carpets. The misplaced use of colour and materiality of their new form alters their original identity and disrupts how these transformed objects are perceived. In the film, Money filmed from the side and a three-quarter view (2010), Cornraro portrays actual coins and Euro notes being transformed into abstract forms through the cinematic use of light and colour. The preoccupation with spatiality and light in the film brings currency’s aesthetic into the composition, stripping the importance of its monetary value. Cornaro creates differing landscapes in her work, welcoming new reflections on the ideology of object and space.

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Kate Cooper, Hypercapitalism and the Digital Body

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Kate Cooper, Rigged 2015. Digital prints, looped HD video with sound, 6:22 min

Kate Cooper’s exhibition at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin looks at the agency of the computer generated female within the glossy aesthetics of consumer capitalism.

The work of British artist Kate Cooper inspires immediate physical and aesthetic attraction. A hybrid of consumer associations, ranging from the glossy iconography of the TV commercial and the sterility of video game graphics to the luminosity of the department store poster and the smell of freshly opened cosmetics, create a subconscious lure. Her use of CGI technology in her artistic practice surpasses a simple study of digital textures to occupy a full-fleshed, hyperreal space, usually reserved to corporate giants in advertising or entertainment.
“In the past I’ve made works where I’ve shot things with real life models, followed by a heavy amount of post-production and CGI, but this time all images are entirely constructed. I’m interested in what that entails, the labor involved and the position of those images and what they mean in terms of representation.”

Through her choice of medium and installation, Cooper employs what she calls ‘the language of hypercapitalism.’ She presents her work as billboard-size prints on light boxes similar to those found in the beauty section of any department store. Rather than simply mocking or subverting, her usage of this polished aesthetic appears more as an occupation or redirection of capitalist mannerisms. “It’s very interesting just getting your hands dirty in finding your own agency within this glossy language, to be able to produce it yourself. When working with this technology, I always feel there’s a kind of hacking element to it.”

Cooper’s work expresses an ultimate devotion to and faith in the digitally constructed body. There is a subtle but crucial shift in the discussion on agency and labor within a digital space – surpassing representation, these bodies are now only representative of themselves.

The fetishization of the CG model’s body alludes to the power of the post-representational female subject; the model has her own body with full potential action rather than being merely a representation of a body. She is a she, not an it. “For me, images are no longer representational in themselves,” Cooper adds, “they perform another function, and I’m interested in exploring the possibilities of what that agency could be, what that could produce. It’s very exciting.” By creating models (rather than images) Cooper insists that agency is central and becomes the politicized premise of the work itself.

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Performance Artist: Tris Vonna-Michell

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The Trades of Others, 2008, and Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex, 2014

Through live performance and audio recordings of spoken texts, Vonna-Michell relays circuitous and multilayered narratives that combine personal anecdotes and historical research. Vonna-Michell’s narrative structures are characterized by repeated detours, dead ends, and streams of association. Dense conglomeration of photographic material, from film and slide projections to photographic prints and other ephemera form a “visual script” that is animated by the artist’s recitations. Integrating fiction and factual information, Vonna-Michell’s narratives address the nature of coincidence and contingency, often referencing his personal history and artistic production. His practice builds on a process that is both recursive and prospective with images drawn from his own archive, including those from previous works, continually reappearing in new configurations.

By splicing the lived with the learnt, Vonna-Michell’s stories and actions form a personal analogue to that monumental act of dispersal and investigation: the large-scale destruction of documents by Stasi officials in 1989, and the new government’s subsequent commissioning of archivists (nicknamed ‘the puzzlers’) to reassemble the mountain of some 600 million scraps. For a month in 2005 Vonna-Michell holed up in a GDR-era Leipzig bed-sit alone with his personal archive of photographs, taking 36 exposures of each image before painstakingly shredding each one by hand. This fragmented portfolio was later presented at his Glasgow School of Art degree show, the resulting photographic slides now used in performance, mementoes of a partial re-enactment and an end-point to his earlier body of work.

Other objects that Vonna-Michell uses in performance have an insufficient and temporary quality: in hahn/huhn, a conspiracy thriller that ducks into the tunnels rumoured to lie under Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof, three blocks of dry ice squat in a line between artist and listener, chilling the feet and offering a shonky reminder of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall; episodes in Finding Chopinare represented by a newspaper clipping, an egg carton and a stick of rock. So ephemeral are these carefully gathered props that many were allegedly stolen during an exhibition in Brussels in 2006, after which the artist replaced them with a seven-inch vinyl recording, Short Stories & Tall Tales (2007). The record is the only saleable item Vonna-Michell has produced to date, the token of a failure to maintain an archive that yet gestures towards the continuing possibility of circulation. An archive attempts a totalizing collection of information, but what if, as in the case of the Stasi, it is kept safe or destroyed, hoarded or dispersed?

Vonna-Michell’s practice reflects on the possibility of recording and transmitting history through the spoken and written word, tracing the associative complexities of how histories and rumours are told.

Tris Vonna-Michell lives and works between Stockholm and Southend-on-Sea in the UK. Recent solo exhibitions have been organized by VOX Centre de l’Image Contemporain in Montreal, T293 in Rome, Jan Mot in Brussels, Capitain Petzel in Berlin, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Metro Pictures in New York, and Cabinet Gallery in London. Vonna-Michell’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London, Moderna Museet in Malmö, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Secession in Vienna, the Shanghai Biennial, and the Yokohama Triennial. Vonna-Michell was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize, and was awarded the Baloise Art Prize and Ars Viva Prize for Fine Arts in 2008. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the Städelschule in Frankfurt, and Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

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Norwegian Painting: Christian Tony Norum

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Christian Tony Norum, Installation view, Untitled, 2015 and Colours of All Time, 2015

A beautiful bird, a drum, the stars and the ancestors, a river, the sea, the wind and the sun. I am blinded by being a human being, searching wondering about everything and nothing. I am a universal human being that live and breath for art, poetry, performance. My main focus is painting but with all this intensity and shadow, I even have to use my self as a medium.

The problems I’m dealing with or try to solve, is how a specific painting or situation have any value or effect at all in this world. I cant change the world or solve any big problems but only believing that small organs like a catalyst can present some kind of nerve that show a little hope of healing in all this killing. Ambitious initiative, which addresses issues of storage and research in addition to exhibitions, museums-represents a substantial attempt to cement this reputation.
Possibilities available for the fundamental artists to negate, stripping away until nothing remains, or to accumulate, to embrace additively until one has reached the limit of fullness. The subversive, at the times contrarian loving and caustic, chaotic and prec—has pursued both paths at once both tendencies arc visible in the presents of artistic practice.

Working with painting, performance and sculpture I need to examine strategies and issues in post structural and modernist theories by using dialogue and communication with my contemporaries and earlier artist.
I use the art-history as a innocence open source to use this old knowledge as a catalyst for new deeper meanings and generate it into a self-reflecting understanding of how I preside the world.
Its not always a issue, its to amuse your self in this reality of ours.
The issues that already exist, or you are put into this world and by using experimental natural methods to meet this experiences with closed eyes while staring at the sun and you know what it is for what it is and that is the color orange.

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Artist, Sascha Weidner, Photographer, 1979 – 2015

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Sascha Weidner, Am Wasser Gebaut, 2009,  Lay Down Close By,  2012 and La lutte de J. Avec l´ange, 2006.

Sascha Weidner was a German Photographer and Artist, who lived and worked in Belm and Berlin. The work of Sascha Weidner deals with the creation of a radical subjective pictorial world. His photographs are characterized by perceptions, aspirations and the world of the subconscious. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. Sascha Weidner died suddenly at age 38.

“It’s not about putting pictures on the wall. I use the room to tell my story, to create a theme, a storyline, underlined by a romantic melancholy. It’s totally authentic, like I am. A lot of times, it’s also too much, like I am. Feeling too much and speaking too much.”

In his essay ‘What Is the Contemporary?’ the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben argues that contemporaneity is defined not by being attuned to one’s times but, on the contrary, by being disconnected and out of touch. For Agamben, the contemporary is precisely that which contrasts with the present so sharply that the latter’s contours become visible. I was reminded of Agamben’s thesis when visiting Sascha Weidner’s exhibition, ‘The Presence of Absence’. The show presented a wide variety of media and topics, ranging from photographs taken in a forest in Japan to sculptures referencing a family in Germany. There were also light-boxes and collages, pictures of graffiti and cherry blossoms. What connected each of the works, however, as the exhibition’s title made clear, was a concern with developing procedures to envision the invisible and the attempt to find traces of the past in the present.

Central to the exhibition was a series of photographs Weidner shot while hiking in Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Rumoured to be so dense that no one who enters it ever leaves, it has long been the subject of Japanese mythology, inspiring folk tales, as well as appearing in modern literature, including a novel by Haruki Murakami. It is also a prime spot for suicides. Weidner followed the paths of people who entered before him, documenting traces of the journeys of those whose travels went unnoticed. Many of these photographs were sparsely and unevenly illuminated, reflecting the maze-like density of the forest, as well as alluding to the frail spirit of the wanderers. They included images of the ribbons people attach to branches every few metres in case they change their minds and want to retrace their path (Atropos II, 2013); bits of rope and plastic left to rot (Untitled, 2014); crushed red berries in the snow (Untitled, 2014); and the shadows of trees (Untitled, 2013). The idea was simple (sort of old-school Existentialism, in fact) and the execution expertly straightforward (some Romanticism here, some Pictorialism there). Yet, by showing both what Weidner’s predecessors on these paths might have seen and, at the same time, documenting what remains to be seen of them, the work was incredibly powerful – and, perhaps above all, complex – creating a mythological emotional territory of very real terror. Indeed, the closest parallel I could think of was Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary film about the Indonesian mass executions in the 1960s, The Act of Killing (2012).

The works in the show all articulated the presence of an absence by providing the contours of that absence, the ghosts of a past. In the moving looped video The Presence of Absence II (2014), a Chinese man dances a waltz on his own, his arms wrapped around an invisible woman (whose bag may still be visible in the margins of the screen). And the series of collages titled ‘Ecken’ (2014) features photo corners that no longer secure any photos, now functionless, they inevitably recall their prior use. They call to mind the notes that the elderly Immanuel Kant used to try to drive a particular person from his memory, writing: ‘The name Lampe must be completely forgotten’ – a method that was, of course, entirely self-defeating.

Weidner’s exhibition proved itself contemporary – in a time of simulacra and algorithms, of Post-internet art and Ulrich Beck’s ‘risk society’ – by sincerely reintroducing the ‘real’, retracing it as if it were still out there, an invisible thread to be revealed and unravelled. Of course, the artist understands that, after Jean Baudrillard and the post-structuralists, the ‘real’ is no longer an unproblematic register if, indeed, it ever was. But it can be experienced nevertheless, he seemed to suggest, as an affective performance. Weidner’s photographs and collages, his video of the dancing man: they all perform reality as mourning, an acting-out of the present by way of a script from the past, looking forward while feeling backwards. In this, they are a performance of contemporaneity itself – precisely in the way described by Agamben, connecting to the present by not being of it.

Written by Timotheus Vermeulen, published in Frieze, Issue 169, March 2015.

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Erika Vogt, Slug, Simone Subal

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Erika Vogt, Stranger Debris Roll Roll Roll, 2013 and installation view of Slug, 2015

Erika Vogt might alternately be described as a sculptor, printmaker or video artist, but, like so many of her peers, these labels merely point at the edges of something deeper. Born out of the tradition of experimental film, Erika brings to bear many of the techniques from that practice to her sculptures and installations – collaging, layering and cutting up different material.

Erika Vogt, born 1973, is a Los Angeles based artist represented by Overduin & Co. in Los Angeles and Simone Subal Gallery in New York City. She received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from New York University.

Vogt uses a range of media and techniques in order to explore the mutability of images and objects. Within her installations, she fuses elements of sculpture, drawing, video, and photography to produce multilayered image spaces. She challenges prescribed art-making systems, conflating and confusing their logic, as sculptures take on the properties of drawing and photographs take on the nature of film. Building on her background in experimental filmmaking, Vogt’s visually dense videos combine both still and moving images, digital and analog technologies, and playfully incorporate drawings and objects from her previous projects. In her recent work, exemplified by installations such as Notes on Currency (2012), The Engraved Plane (2012), and Grounds and Airs (2012), Vogt took as her subject the ritual use and exchange of objects, such as currency, and investigated the empathetic relationship between objects and people.

To read Slug through this gift of words (albeit someone else’s) as “an extension of the interior life of the giver, both in space and time, into the interior life of the receiver” allows us to perceive the slug in its dialectical sense: as a $50 gold coin, for sure, but also its opposite, a counterfeit, a token used to subvert a slot machine’s understanding of exchange value. We experience Slug as the implicit trace of productive activity, but it also transforms us (the viewer) into the slug, the interval between things, the breath or gap. “But blank lines do not say nothing,” as Carson writes.

Through her work, Vogt attempts to gesture towards community. Not in the educational sense or what we conflate with “social practice” as an institutional turn, but in the old way, the way it used to mean friendship, comradeship, living and working together. The sculptures shade, point, protect and interact with each other, creating new perspectives on and for one another. Bringing to mind Shelly Silver’s Things I forgot to tell myself, in which the filmmaker’s scrunched up hand forms an aperture through which we see the city, we should read Slug together. It is through their implied social relation that these objects reveal sincerity. Vogt refuses to take the stance of either cynical embrace or pseudo-rebellious anti-art, meaning there is instead an untypical openness to the work. It yearns to protect, to support.

Source: Art News, September, 2015.

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Fitness for Artists, “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

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Helga Wretman, Fitness for Artists, 2015

Helga Wretman aims to fill the body and soul of participating artists with endorphins to improve their creativity and self consciousness, whilst providing a platform for international artists to connect with peers in other parts of the world. “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

12 artists have been invited to represent their country, themselves as artists and their will to communicate. This will be a performance where no participant is passive.

The class begins gently with an organic warm up of the joints and major muscle groups that prepares your body for more intensive stages. There after we move on to the activate the cardiac functions in your body. That will start with some fun sparring in couples and then we do some classic aerobic and end with an intensive Jump-style tutorial. At this stage we are warm and ready to move on to the muscle training and floor-work without weights, including yoga and various classic body toning and strengthening exercises. To end the class we make a stretching session focusing on both big and small muscle groups.

Helga Wretman (born 1985 in Stockholm) lives and works in Berlin. She completed her training at the Kungliga Svenska Balettskolan in Stockholm for Modern and Contemporary Dance. Helga has also studied dance in London, Berlin and Stockholm.

Wretman has performed in venues such as Peres Projects, Berlin; Darsa Comfort, Zurich, and Kunsthalle Athena, Athens. She has also performed for artists such as Aids- 3D,  Jeremy Shaw, Donna Huanca, Peaches, Reynold Reynolds as well as performing in numerous German films as a stuntwoman.

http://creative.arte.tv/de/series/fitness-artists-tv

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Artist: Oliver Laric

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Oliver Laric, Touch My Body, Green Screen Version, 2008 and The Marble Player, From the series Lincoln 3D Scans, 2013

Oliver Laric uses memes, movable type, copies and collective agency to make art that is only partly ‘his.’ Oliver Laric once showed a 16th-century print by Flemish court artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder. The etching depicts a scene of iconoclasm, or Beeldenstorm, during the Reformation, when churches and public spaces in northern Europe were systematically purged of religious imagery, often by mobs. Hallucinatory in its detail, the print shows a swarm of figures on a mount pillaging icons, breaking statues, tossing altarpieces into a fire. Birds in the air shit on monks beside bare trees that crown a bald outcropping; broken relics and shattered crucifixes jut out like gravestones from a pit.

Gheeraerts’s work isn’t simply a depiction of image breaking. When viewed from afar, the mass of active figures in the print forms a new, anamorphic image: a grotesque, composite illusion of a monk’s rotting head. An assembly of small bodies forms a sagging mouth (full of drunken townsfolk), and a group of monks ploughs a field that’s also the head’s wrinkled brow; a monkey stands inside an ear, and the figure’s nose is formed by a crucifix about to be toppled between two hollowed-out eye sockets.

I don’t think Laric had ever seen the real Allegory of Iconoclasm (c. 1560–70) – which exists only as a smallish, unique print in the British Museum – when he introduced me to Gheeraerts’s work during a conversation about his own video Versions (2012), the third in his series of that name, in which the monk’s head appears briefly. I write ‘real’, although Laric’s information-driven videos and sculptures confound distinctions between real and fake, even making that effacement their subject. I write ‘own work’, despite Laric’s ongoing concern with the mutability of authorship and ownership. An author is fungible, particularly as enabled by recent forms of collective and participatory labour. Internet memes, popular and children’s films, super-cut YouTube videos, medieval sculptures, outsourced remakes and the ‘participatory’ labour practices of North Korean monuments are all found, re-remixed and translated in Laric’s works. And although I write ‘conversation’, that word only partially accounts for the hopscotching, hyper-medial surge of links, flickering images and n+7 web results that the artist retrieves, combs through and reassembles to display and comment on his own material, as well as that of others. ‘I sometimes Google terms that seem to have nothing to do with each other,’ Laric says. ‘“Mikhail Bakhtin and prosumer” or “Samuel Beckett and Teletubbies”. Usually, there’s an unexpected link.’ In the latter case, it might be Beckett’s Quad (1981), whose four actors could be proto-Teletubbies; in the former, it’s Bakhtin’s dialogic understanding of how production oscillates between collectives and individuals – a dialectical motor Laric puts to work in his collectively-based pieces.

There is no distinction between the material Laric finds and that which he presents as his own. Laric’s exhibition ‘Kopienkritik’ (Copy Critique) at the Skulpturhalle in Basel in 2011 took its cue from the 19th-century methodological approach to philology and ancient sculpture, which viewed (inferior) Roman ‘copies’ in terms of (superior) Greek ‘originals’, reconstructing those lost originals via the bulk typologizing of inferior later copies. Laric cast and grouped that museum’s collection of Greek and Roman plaster casts into typologies, alongside video monitors and heads cast by the artist. ‘Copyright did not exist in ancient times, when authors frequently copied other authors at length in works of nonfiction.’ This declaration does not come from a history of literary influence, but from the GNU Manifesto, written by MIT’s Richard Stallman in 1985 to announce an influential, free software, mass collaboration coding project (and the theoretical backbone to much open-source digital content today). ‘Be promiscuous,’ reads an Open Source Initiative manifesto encouraging coders to distribute their works free of charge. Laric draws on this ethos of collective reworking.

Although you can find it on YouTube, Laric’s Touch My Body: Green Screen Version (2008) is not really a video but rather a participatory game, or dare, that Laric intended to be appropriated and modified. For Touch My Body…, Laric stripped Mariah Carey’s music video for her 2008 song of the same name of all but Carey herself, and replaced it with a green screen, against which any background could be inserted. When Laric posted the piece to YouTube that year, users took the cue and began uploading amateurish, witty remixes using Laric’s template. (Including one with a background of zombie gore taken from Sean of the Dead, 2004). Today, the first result when searching for Laric’s piece on YouTube is not his original video, but an amateur mash-up, of which there are many.

Memes – like fame, lies and capital – accrue value and cachet as they circulate. But they also date and flatten, and while Touch My Body … lacks the complexity of Laric’s later pieces, it demonstrates the atmosphere in which his work arose: the newly ‘social’ internet; the advent of the ‘prosumer’ (‘producer-consumer’ or ‘professional-consumer’) technology that enabled easy editing by 15 year olds; online video-sharing platforms; freely accessible, though commercial, image repositories such as Getty Images and Flickr. On a larger scale, the points of departure for Laric’s works have been incipient shifts in group structures and collective agency (shifts not limited to the internet), the global political atmospheres of what in the mid-2000s began to be called ‘truthiness’: a simultaneous reliance on, and distrust of, circulated images and narratives.

The striking succession of historical images that opens the first of Laric’s essayistic video series ‘Versions’ (2009–12) is as much a comment on political shilly-shallying as an assertion of the masses’ new claim on image production and circulation. The video, which is a trove of examples of the fraught status of reproductions and copies from recent and contemporary material culture, begins with an image (released by Iran’s state media to Agence France-Presse in 2008) of four missiles, which was used to illustrate Iran’s missile tests when it appeared on the pages of the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times, among many others; following this, Laric inserts a graphic that indicates how that image was clearly manipulated, if not fabricated, using Photoshop (the multiple missiles are effectively copy-and-pasted from within the image). And finally, a series of user-generated spin-offs of the Photoshopped image showing dozens of missiles, their streams in comic curlicues. I can’t think of any better way of exemplifying Jean Baudrillard’s ideas about simulacra and hyperreality in our age of truthiness than this simple slideshow compiled by Laric.

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